Fortunately for me, tonight I was able to enjoy the Maryland Basketball ball game tonight from the 4th row, center court, in the middle of the student section at the Comcast Center. Maryland defeated Youngstown State tonight, 73-45, in front of a sparse crowd at the Comcast Center, completing their 2nd victory of the season. The start of the game was delayed nearly 10 minutes after a problem with both the scoreboard and shot clocks forced the tech crew at the Comcast Center to restart the entire system at tipoff.
The Terps started off the game very slow, seeming to not be able to make a basket in the first several minutes of play. Maryland didn't get on the board until a steal led to an Eric Hayes breakaway dunk. Maryland seemed very shaky at the start of the game, but eventually settled down behind the leadership of both Vasquez and Hayes.
The starting line up struggled in the beginning, especially Maryland's front court players who appear to still be a little lost and aren't really attacking the basket. Tucker played okay and Milbourne struggled early and never really got into the game, eventually fouling out in the 2nd half.
Vasquez had a great game, tying his career high in points (28), to go along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in only 30 minutes of play. Vasquez did a fantastic job tonight of not forcing too many shots, but rather passing the ball off, which is a good improvement for him over last year. Vasquez also did all of this while playing the 1, 2, and 3 positions.
I thought Eric Hayes had a great game - he had 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 really good block. I know those stats don't sound too impressive, but Hayes did a lot of things that won't show up in the box score after the game - hustling for loose balls, following up shots, inserting confidence in the team, etc. I think Hayes also did a great job coming off of screens and pics as well. When he's open, he can really knock down shots.
Gary Williams seems to be playing Dave Neal a lot, to the tune of 21 minutes tonight. I like Dave Neal - I think he's a great glue, scrappy player. But I'm not sure why he was playing 21 minutes tonight. Dave scored a total of 0 points in his 21 minutes, only grabbed 1 rebound and dished out 2 assists. When Neal is covering someone on the outside, such as Vytas Sulskis tonight, they simply fake a shot and then drive right past him. Neal also seems to be struggling grabbing rebounds. If he was grabbing boards, I wouldn't have a problem with his lack of offense, but right now he appears to be doing neither. I think the large amount of time Neal is getting is because he's a senior and because Maryland's other big men haven't stepped up thus far.
Crowd favorite Jin Soo Kim had a pretty off night, often looking lost in the offense while committing 3 turnovers and some sub-par passing. I think Kim is still learning the offense, but he needs to do less standing around and has to become more involved in the half court.
Sean Mosley had a great game and had a great 3 minute stretch where he scored a couple of times, was hustling for loose balls, came up with a few steals, and probably earned himself some additional playing time for his effort.
Bowie looked good, but only scored from the free throw line and added 2 assists and 3 steals to a somewhat quiet night.
As I said previously, Maryland's front court needs to step and grow up fast. Dupree was constantly getting blocked when he attempted shots around the basket and Maryland was out rebounded tonight 40-30 against a mostly smaller, less athletic Penguins team. Goins, Burney and Gregory combined for 18 minutes of play, no points, 1 rebound and 1 block. That HAS to improve.
Maryland can win without front court production, but that means our guards and forwards are going to have to step up and slash through and follow up shots to grab their own boards if Maryland wants to be successful.
I think the biggest problem tonight for Maryland was the officials. Fouls were being called left and right, which prevented Maryland from pushing the ball up court and from getting a lot of fast break points. I believe in the first half, each team was in the double bonus with 9 minutes left and the each team was again in the double bonus in the 2nd half with 4 minutes left. That's a lot of fouls folks. It really slowed down the play of the game.
One interesting tidbit about Gary Williams' post game interview with Johnny Holiday - Gary basically called out the large number of fans who were missing tonight and said "If you know any people with basketball tickets, you know, the people who thought it wasn't worth watching us play a Youngstown State team, ask them to give away their tickets if they're not going to use them." I thought that was a pretty strong statement from the coach, following up on his comments from the last game in which he called out fans who he thought were booing the team in the early half of the game. I love Gary's passion and I hope people listen and start coming out to these games or at least give them away to a children's charity or something.
Overall, good building game for the Terps. They have a lot more to do, but hopefully they'll learn and get better.